Anderton's persistence led to Kiwibank

The true story behind one of Labour's most popular policies, the establishment of Kiwibank, has been revealed: it was only grudgingly agreed to after Progressive leader Jim Anderton wore the Labour Cabinet down.

During his valedictory speech yesterday, Mr Anderton told Parliament the deal over Kiwibank was only done after months of debate and Annette King eventually telling the finance minister of the time, Michael Cullen, "For God's sake, give him the bloody bank".

Mr Anderton said: "In equally immortal words, Michael Cullen replied: 'Oh, all right then'."

His speech capped 27 occasionally turbulent years in Parliament, initially as a Labour MP, then as a maverick who walked away to form his own party, New Labour, after ructions within the fourth Labour government over economic policy.

New Labour became the Alliance and swept into Government in 1999 with 10 MPs in a coalition deal with Labour, but the party fractured before the 2002 election and Mr Anderton formed yet another new party, the Progressives.

Mr Anderton told Parliament he had no regrets and his former party, the Alliance, was set to become "a threat to an enlightened government" when he decided to form the Progressive Party.

"I have no regrets about any of that. Under the same circumstances I would do exactly the same again.

"There was no point being part of a party when I couldn't, in all honesty, ask my constituents at that time to vote for it."

With just two days left to go before Parliament rises for the election, there has been a rash of valedictory speeches from retiring MPs.

Another another long-time MP, Pete Hodgson, joined Mr Anderton in signing off on his political career yesterday.

Mr Hodgson said he first started working at Parliament in 1980 when Mr Anderton hired him to work for the Labour Party.

He was nearly 30 then and was 61 now.

"Politics has been my life for all that time".